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County zoning opponents plot campaign strategy

County zoning opponents plot campaign strategy

July 1st, 2014 in News

The need for zoning has not been shown or proven.

That's the feeling of a group of Cole County residents opposed to the measure on the Aug. 5 ballot asking whether or not there should be county zoning.

The group met Monday night at the Missouri River Regional Library, looking at ways to get their message out.

In written remarks given to the group prior to the meeting, Vic Rackers said, "This proposal is an overreaction by a small group of individuals to one adult club in one neighborhood of the county. This proposal attempts to protect one's property rights by taking or reducing the rights away from another."

Former county commissioner candidate Ed Williams, who organized Monday's meeting, said zoning proponents have used the issue of the possibility of a strip club coming into the county as a scare tactic and not talking more about zoning requirements.

At public meetings organized by county officials to discuss zoning, those in favor of zoning have noted there was a case in the past where a sex shop came into a neighborhood and the county couldn't keep the business out because of the lack of zoning regulations.

The shop, known as Shakel's Secrets on Arden Drive, was eventually shut down after authorities charged prostitution was taking place there and the owner gave up his business license. The property was sold and has since been used as a residence.

"Strip clubs can be regulated, but not banned," Williams said. "The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that such banning violates the U.S. Constitution."

Others at the meeting said they were concerned with the lack of specifics in the proposal. They say the simple ballot language of shall Cole County have county zoning is not enough information and the fact the County Commission will have control over zoning after this vote bothers them as well.

If zoning is adopted, then a zoning plan and map would have to be finalized and ratified by the county planning and zoning committee. It then goes to the County Commission, which would hold hearings in all the townships before taking a final vote to adopt the plan.

If zoning is approved, most of the county would be zoned agriculture and county officials have said agriculture practices would not be regulated by zoning. They have also said zoning doesn't change a resident's taxation status and zoning can be changed or amended.

Group members also said Monday they felt the zoning effort was just a way to improve the interests of the real estate businesses in the area.

Both the Jefferson City Area Board of Realtors and Home Builders of Central Missouri have come out in favor of zoning saying the comfort level of new homeowners would increase if county zoning were in place because it would protect property values.

With a few weeks left before the election, the group is looking at word of mouth to let the public know about their concerns along with writing letters to the newspaper, getting "No On Zoning" buttons and signs made and using social media.

"This is an issue concerning unincorporated areas of Cole County, i.e., not Jefferson City," Rackers wrote. "We humbly and graciously ask the citizens of Jefferson City to allow county residents and landowners to decide the issue. People decided to live in rural areas for reasons such as this to have more personal freedoms, employ individual free will and personal responsibility."

State statue requires all residents of the county to vote on zoning.

Despite city residents being able to vote, Williams feels there is hope, noting the proposed Transformation Sales Tax in 2012, an economic development strategic plan to complete projects in Jefferson City, was defeated with a grass roots opposition effort.

"County voters are going to vote against this, but if we get the word out to city residents I think we have chance to defeat this," he said.